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Soon, Puffing Will Be Allowed in Old Village

With a promise from the landlord, Mike Yeroush, that “no tobacco whatsoever” will be contained in the smoking material to be served, the Board of Trustees in the Village of Great Neck approved the establishment of a hookah lounge on the corner of Middle Neck Road and Piccadilly. 


For those unfamiliar with hookahs, they are basically elaborate water pipes of Middle Eastern origin that are usually used for smoking a blend of tobacco, molasses and fruit, a concoction known as shisha. It is possible, however, to blend an herbal shisha without tobacco. Hookah lounges have sprung up around the country and are quite popular with the college set.


Robert Barbach, the architect for the space, explained at village board’s last meeting that the interior space will have a comfortable, laid-back atmosphere with sofas and tables to accommodate up to 100 people. Outside on the property, there would be seating for an additional 32 patrons.


This outside venue raised questions about the village’s “no smoking on sidewalks” ordinance. Village attorney Steve Limmer reasoned that since the tables would be on private property and not directly on village sidewalks, the application would be within the law.


The owner of the lounge would erect fencing around the periphery and screen the area with large containers of plantings. There would be no cooking—except for cooking up the dried fruit in a charcoal pit—but coffee, teas and pastries would be served.


A long discussion ensued about the potential for double parking on busy Middle Neck Road. Under the current plan, the venue would have a parking attendant to juggle cars if necessary. If the lounge becomes very popular, the village board could require the operator to set up a valet service or provide extra security.


On weekdays and Sundays, the lounge would be open from noon until midnight; it would be closed on Fridays. It would open on Saturdays from sunset to 2 a.m. It would be closed for all Jewish holidays.


The lounge would be subject to oversight by the Nassau County Fire Marshal’s office and would have to comply with all building codes.


The board did not set an age restriction for entrance into the lounge. Governor Andrew Cuomo did, however, sign a law in 2011 that banned the sale of water pipes to those under 18 years of age.


The World Health Organization states that while herbal shisha does not contain nicotine, it still produces tar and carbon monoxide when burned and may have negative health consequences.


Both the Centers for Disease Control and the American Lung Association have come out in strong opposition to hookah bars that use tobacco, but have not commented on the health effects of herbal shisha.


The landlord says the lounge could open by autumn.